Her shoes

Participants gather around one of the stations during the 2018 “In Her Shoes” awareness walk. Domestic Violence Services hosts the sixth annual event Saturday at the Oxbow Trail in Hermiston.

Jeanne Bedolla, an advocate and project coordinator with Domestic Violence Services, said insight can be drawn from the recent chaos caused by Mother Nature.

Flooding at Riverfront Park in Hermiston has impacted the organization’s upcoming fundraising awareness event. Despite having plans in place for several months, the resulting damage at the park requires a change in venue.

“In a way, it’s what our clients go through with all the barriers they face,” Bedolla said. “Things happen that are out of their control.”

Held in conjunction with Sexual Assault Awareness Month, “In Her Shoes” is Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon at the Oxbow Trail, 1100 N.W. Elm Ave. (behind the One Stop Mart gas station on Northwest 11th Street). The registration fee is $15, which includes a T-shirt. Also, people can purchase raffle tickets for $1 each or six for $5 for a chance to win prizes.

Also on Saturday, Good Shepherd Health Care System is holding Steps to Success, a fun run and walk — with distances of 5K, 10K and 1 mile. Bedolla said proceeds from that event will benefit Domestic Violence Services and the local Special Olympics program.

Steps to Success starts at 8 a.m., also at the Oxbow Trail. People can register in advance at www.itsyourrace.com or on-site beginning at 7:30 a.m. The cost is $15 or $25 with a T-shirt. Prizes will be awarded to top finishers. For questions, call 541-667-3509.

“Good Shepherd has been a great supporter of Domestic Violence Services,” Bedolla said.

In its sixth year, the “In Her Shoes” experiential walk provides insight as to what victims of domestic violence and sexual assault go through. Family and friends, Bedolla said, often wonder why victims “don’t just leave.”

The activity provides an opportunity for people to learn more about the decision-making process and barriers that victims face.

When participants arrive, they receive a scenario and then advance through stations based on their “decisions.” The process, Bedolla said, can be eye-opening as people believe they are making the best decision based on the circumstances.

“A lot of times they are shocked,” she said. “People think it’s so simple and logical.”

While a victim of violence might make what seems like the best choice, Bedolla said there are many variables. At the same time, perpetrators of violence are making decisions. “In Her Shoes,” she said, helps people understand some of the dynamics.

The Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence created “In Her Shoes” as a community education tool. Bedolla said the local organization modified the simulation to incorporate it as an awareness walk.

“It’s better than someone just explaining what happened because it kind of gets you more into the feeling and emotions of it,” Bedolla said about “In Her Shoes.”

A nonprofit organization, Domestic Violence Services has served Umatilla and Morrow counties for more than 40 years. In addition to shelters in Pendleton and Hermiston, it maintains a 24-hour crisis line (800-833-1161) and provides support services and advocacy activities for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence, including stalking, teen dating violence and the impact on children. There are offices in Pendleton, Hermiston, Boardman, Milton-Freewater and Heppner.

For more information about the organization or to register for “In Her Shoes,” visit www.dvs-or.org. For questions, call 541-276-3322 or volunteer@dvs-or.org.

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Contact Community Editor Tammy Malgesini at tmalgesini@eastoregonian.com or 541-564-4539

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